In June 2002 hundreds of thousands of Korean citizens, participating in a series of candlelight vigils, protested against the acquittal of two U.S. soldiers charged with negligent homicide in the deaths of two teenage Korean girls during an off-base training exercise. The protesters also requested an apology from the United States and a major revision of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), the legal code governing the U.S. soldiers stationed in the Republic of Korea (ROK). Some went even further by demanding the complete withdrawal of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) and the termination of the U.S.-ROK security pact that has been a cornerstone of the close bilateral relationship for more than 50 years. The magnitude and significance of the street protests were so great that, just days before the close of the tight presidential race later that year, the competing candidates each tried to tap into the rising tide of anti-American sentiment.